I have read more recent Finder novels, and loved them, but I didn't realize before I purchased this one that it was one of his first. Consequently, the verbage is a bit off; as it was written 20 years ago. At first I thought it was another of those "American" thrillers written by a Brit or Aussie, given the stilted terminology and strange phraseology; but I did a bit of research on Finder, only to discover that this novel was nearly autobiographical. Finder was born in the US, went to Yale, then the spy business; but somehow the dialogue did not seem realistic. Things were said to be "terribly" funny (or some such, instead of "very"), and "rather" was used the same way.
Maybe I found myself concentrating on this because the narration was so mind-numbingly monotonous; the narrator could have been literally reading it for the first time, aloud; and was rarely expressive. Scott Brick would have done this book justice, and made it as interesting to hear as it must have been to read.
I have read Finder before, and found his books deeply engrossing; if not paranoia-inducing. I was deeply engrossed in this one; then, an hour before the end of part 1, it automatically started again at the beginning. I deleted, redownloaded, etc., to no avail. I wrote tech support and they told me to redownload, which i did yet again. A chunk more was available; but it broke up again. It did the same on my iPad and iPhone; and I have downloaded literally hundreds of books without this problem. The tech even told me to download in a different format (which I don't want), then told me I can listen to it on my computer by streaming. That is NOT why I get audiobooks--to be tied to my computer! So, I went onto part 2 with a big patch of the plot missing. Then, at the precipice of the conclusion to the mystery, it suddenly started at the beginning again; again about an hour before the end of part 2. I'll bet it was good; but incredibly annoying that I'll never know.
I have read everything that Nelson DeMille wrote, and I think he walks on water among writers. He, not only is a master of intrigue, character development and plot interest, but usually manages to bring levity to the most tense situations with a clever, articulate male protagonist. This one had virtually no character development, from my point of view, and almost read like a tragic documentary. It was a tragic historical thesis, and heroic on the part of the characters; but they were shallow--just political. I'm not sorry I got it, but was truly looking forward to a DeMille treat. I have read his books, admittedly, in reverse chronology; but am rarely disappointed.
I had serious misgivings about wasting money on what has been described to me as a "guy's writer". But, during a sale I decided to try this book of Cussler's, which appeared to have a traditional mystery plot with a historical context. I was really ready to admit my misgivings when the mystery was solved, the perp caught, and it was what I thought was the end of the book. It was an interesting concept. Then it went off track, seeming to change modes, dwelling at great length on the San Francisco earthquake for some unknown reason, seemed filled with corny lines and situations (coming up to his "love", whom he had seen all of a few times, while she was tending to the mangled and dying earthquake victims, with the line "can you help me? My arm is gone"). After that, it was a tedious plunge into the dynamics of railroad trains, and a silent movie-seeming implausibe and unbearably corny ending. I stand by my first impression--shallow characters, corney relationships, and lots of "man-stuff"--not deep
When "Lincoln Laywer" came out with a smirky Mathew McConnahy, I figured all Connelly's succeeding books would be written for the big screen, rather than the small reader. Even though there is a shameless comment about making a movie of the story with said McConnahy, the story line is sound, and perfectly suited for today's economic woes, and the cottage industries it creates to further milk us all. Of course, it is destined to be another movie, but still a great read on "the small page".
Wise-cracking Myron Bolitar and Win are more entertaining and articulate than ever in this long-overdue return to the witty reparte of Coben's sports agent/detective and his brilliant, beautiful, rich but madly psychopathic friend and protector. I actually stopped reading Coben for a spell, not wanting to wallow in the seemingly endless darkness and misery of kidnappings and child abductions. Wit and humor trump suffering and tragedy, and make for a much more enjoyable reading experience. Steven Weber is great as the narrator.
This was one of those "nothing is what it seems" plots where a seemingly normal existence is discovered to be anything but that, after a doctor's wife dies in a skiing accident. Although I felt he was unnaturally naive throughout it, it made for a really good read.
While this narrator is a great character actor (on The Closer and others), he breathes no life into this potentially thrilling and harrowing plot. Everything is a laid-back speech pattern, with nothing inspiring the emotions appropriate to the story line. He just mosies along, sounding almost bored, no matter what was happening. To make matters worse, the sound was awful; like someone recorded it from an old hollow-sounding tape or record. Three stars for the predictable but frightening plot, but the narrator needs to stick to acting--or learn to convey some range of emotion when needed.
Another example of a ho-hum narrator putting the wrong emphasis on the wrong words, mispronouncing simple words, and generally appearing as though he was not an experienced narrator and/or hadn't read the book enough to get the gist of the dialogue. Also, Stone was "played" sounding like a scruffy street cop, even while using stilted but correct grammar at a morgue. He sounded seedy, which is the antithesis of his character. Woods' novels are always less than profound; but good narration would have helped this one a lot. Narrator occasionally gave certain characters another character's voice. This was made to sound like a cheap paperback gumshoe book, with Stone fantasizing about sticking his tongue in an attractive woman's ear. Probably old enough to avoid political correctness; but he just comes off sleazy. Barely worth the read unless you get it for a very low price. Don't waste a credit.
Scott Brick would have nailed this book. But, as it was, the narrator seemed like the disembodied voice of a GPS some of the time (especially the beginning). This hurt the book, in that the emphasis was often put on the wrong or inappropriate word in a sentence or dialogue. Often, it was confusing, and sometimes even conveyed an entirely different meaning. While you were trying to figure out what the character was really trying to say, the audiobook advanced, and you either had to rewind or miss some of the dialogue. It would have served the narrator better if he had read the book, or read it more than once, so he was aware of the inflection and meaning of the sentence he was characterizing. He appeared to read with the same "voice up and down" pattern no matter what was being said. It was like simplified narration 101--put some inflection in your voice while reading--but the idea should be to do it when and where it is meaningful and suitable. Good authors like Finder should insist on well-versed and talented narrators who don't make their work suffer.
Never seeming to run out of clever wisecracking reparte, DeMille additionally adds historical and geographical depth to this great read. Scott Brick makes it even more enjoyable.
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